February 1, 2023

Consumer Reports calls Ford’s automated driving tech much better than Tesla’s

4 min read


Tesla’s Autopilot, Which at its core combines lane keeping with traffic-aware cruise control to help guide the car down the highway, was once cutting-edge technology.

But more than half of new vehicles today are available with similar advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS. And in a recent ranking by Consumer Reports, which tested ADAS from 12 different automakers, Tesla ranked seventh.

According to Consumer Reports, the best such system is Ford’s Blue Cruise.

In addition to Ford’s system, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota, and Volkswagen all have ADAS technology superior to Tesla’s.

These include systems offered by luxury brands such as GM’s Cadillac, Toyota’s Lexus and VW’s Audi. Systems offered by three of South Korea’s closest car brands, Hyundai, Kia and Genesis, earned the lowest scores in Consumer Reports’ testing.

BlueCruise has two major differences from Tesla Autopilot, and most others. First, the Ford system is designed to allow drivers to stay away from the steering wheel for long periods of time while driving on highways that have been mapped out in detail in advance. Second, Blue Cruise uses an infrared camera inside the vehicle to monitor the driver’s face and ensure they are paying attention to the road ahead. GM’s Super Cruise, which ranks second, is the only other system tested by Consumer Reports that works this way.

Ford’s driver monitoring technology is one of the big reasons the Blue Cruiser received a high rating in Consumer Reports’ tests. In contrast, Tesla Autopilot and most others can only detect the pull of the driver’s hand on the steering wheel to ensure the driver is not fully engaged.

Vehicles with ADAS are not self-driving cars. (There are no self-driving cars on the market yet.) Drivers must pay attention at all times and be ready to take over the wheel if something happens that the car’s automated systems cannot safely handle.

According to Consumer Reports, some systems that used only one hand weight on the steering wheel to indicate driver attention still allowed drivers to not touch the steering wheel for long periods of time.

“In our tests, both Mercedes-Benz and Tesla allowed the car to be driven hands-free on the highway for about 30 seconds before giving the driver the first audible alert to put their hands on the steering wheel,” Kelly said. Funkhouser, head of connected and automated vehicles for Consumer Reports, said in a report on the findings.

Consumer Reports auto testers put the various systems through 40 different tests to evaluate things like how well the systems steered the vehicle, how well they made sure the driver stayed alert and whether they prevented reckless or even reckless driving. How to deal with a drunk driver More advanced features, such as automatic lane changes, available in some systems, were not reviewed.

Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” The optional feature, which promises to one day provide assistance in a wide range of situations, including urban driving, was not evaluated in these tests. Attempts to email Tesla with questions about the Consumer Reports reviews were unsuccessful. Tesla does not normally respond to questions from the media.

Different technologies were also tested to communicate with the drivers. When using these types of technologies, drivers need to be immediately aware of whether the systems are working, when they are only partially working and when they are shut down for any reason. can. Systems also have to communicate with the driver when they are available for use and when they are not.

GM’s Super Cruise system, for example, uses a brightly colored light bar at the top of the steering wheel rim to alert the driver of the system’s status or when the driver needs to take over. So to warn. In Ford vehicles, the gauge cluster screen changes color to indicate system status.

Some systems, such as Ford’s, GM’s and Raven’s, only work fully when the vehicle is driven on specific highways, usually divided interstate-type highways. Other systems have no such restrictions and, although they may be intended for highway use, nothing prevents them from being used on undivided roads with intersections. The Tesla and Lexus systems in particular were singled out by Consumer Reports as potentially allowing their use in unsafe conditions.

In terms of steering the vehicles into the center of only one lane, the systems from Ford, Mercedes and Tesla did a good job of steering smoothly and keeping the car consistently in the lane center even on curvy roads.

According to Consumer Reports, the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis systems caused the vehicle to drift back and forth between lane lines. Kia’s system was notably incapable of this. Stay in one lane through curves, according to Consumer Reports. Kia and Genesis did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CNN Business on Consumer Reports reviews.

Hyundai Motor America said, “We are constantly evaluating the performance of our models using internal data, consumer reports, direct reports from owners, and internal data from a variety of other sources, with the aim of improving our vehicles and technologies. It has to be continuously improved.” a statement.

According to Consumer Reports, for the most part, there was little learning to use the vehicle’s owner’s manual. The consumer advocacy group found the guidelines “confusing” and wrote in its report that they are “used to reduce manufacturers’ liability rather than helping drivers fully understand and use these high-tech systems.” Sounds more like tools.”

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